Adult colouring Books – Relax and de-stress

There is a new mantra among strung-out women looking to de-stress from the daily pressures of juggling work and family life: stay between the lines.

Yes, colouring for adults — taking a pack of pens or crayons and fastidiously filling in intricate patterns and pictures in books, which are being marketed at grown-ups — is a modern phenomenon.

A cursory glance at Amazon’s Top Ten bestselling books list proves the point. Though E. L. James is reigning with Grey, the latest money- spinner in her Fifty Shades series, you don’t have to look much further down the chart to find Millie Marotta’s Animal Kingdom — A Colouring Book Adventure, at number three, or The Mindfulness Colouring Book by Emma Farrarons, at number nine.

At one point last month, five out of the Top Ten titles were colouring-in books. For adults.

Publishers are reporting sales figures in the hundreds of thousands. Independent book publisher Michael O’Mara has built up a series of 28 titles and sold more than half a million copies so far, including The Can’t Sleep Colouring Book, which sold more than 2,000 copies last week.

And those thousands of sales reflect the many thousands of British women who are turning to colouring in.

The boom is being attributed to a modern preoccupation with nostalgia, combined with the fact that when it comes to relaxation, colouring has surprisingly scientific results.

‘It’s all about how colouring in helps alter brainwaves,’ says clinical psychologist Dr David Holmes.

‘When we’re alert and attentive, with the brain engaged in decision-making and problem-solving, it operates using beta brainwaves — precisely what’s needed when you need to think on your feet.’

But beta brainwaves require a great deal of mental energy and the brain can’t continue to effectively function in that mode. Just as a car engine overheats if you continually rev it, keeping the brain in high gear puts it under a level of pressure it cannot sustain healthily.

Colouring Books
Colouring Books

To relax, says Dr Holmes, you must shift down a gear so the brain starts using alpha brainwaves — a transition some people find difficult.

‘Unsurprisingly these people are the same ones who tend to go on to develop problems such as anxiety, depression and insomnia,’ he says.

If you were to get someone who predominantly operates in beta mode to start colouring in, and at the same time attach them to an electro-encephalogram (EEG) — a machine that records brain activity — Dr Holmes says you would soon start to observe these all-important alpha brainwaves take over.

‘That’s because colouring in is an ambient activity that gives the brain something simple to focus on, so it doesn’t become bored and frustrated, but without any complex thinking or planning to do,’ he says.

‘Also, those alpha waves are often associated with child brain activity; that nostalgic, childlike element to colouring in actually helps add to its effectiveness.’

Psychotherapist Abigail Eaton Masters started prescribing colouring books as homework to her clients last year, and uses one herself. ‘I have clients who were self-medicating with alcohol because they were hitting the end of the day in such a state of heightened anxiety they couldn’t sleep and so used booze to help them switch off.

‘They’re finding picking up a colouring book instead much more effective at helping them wind down and relax before bed and the quality of their sleep has improved. I’ve even given one to a client who was suffering so badly from anxiety that self-harming felt like her only release. Now, when she feels compelled to do that, she reaches for her book instead and focuses on colouring in until the urge passes.’

Colouring Books
Colouring Books

But it was a man who launched the craze — publisher Michael O’Mara, who hit upon the idea in 2012 during an editorial brainstorming meeting. ‘We produce some really beautiful colouring books for children, and someone cleverly suggested: “Why not try and do this for adults?”’ says senior editorial director Louise Dixon. ‘Everyone leapt on the idea.’

She says that some illustrators were ‘a bit sniffy’ when asked to contribute colouring in books for adults. Not so children’s illustrator and colouring book designer Richard Merritt, recently in Amazon’s Top Ten with Art Therapy Colouring Book.

‘I go into much more detail with these books than the ones I produce for children,’ he says.

‘They need to be elaborately patterned and highly detailed to keep an adult engaged.

‘At the start I consulted with a psychologist who explained that symmetry and heavily patterned imagery is more appealing to the brain, so I always bear that in mind when I’m designing a new page.

‘Funnily enough, when I’m drawing I seem to go into auto-pilot. The patterns just seem to flow.

‘So even that side of these books has turned out to be a very relaxing process.’

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

The days are shorter, the weather is colder – and you are down in the dumps.

It’s easy to blame your bad mood on the lack of sunlight or the freezing air.

But how can you tell if you’re suffering from a bout of the winter blues?

Or if your symptoms are more serious, and a sign of seasonal affective disorder?

Now, a new infographic aims to shed light on the condition, which affects millions across the world.

Seasonal Affective Disorder – or SAD – is a type of depression associated with the fall and winter – thought to be caused by lack of light.

The infographic – from Illinois psychiatric healthcare treatment center Yellowbrick – revealed that the disorder affects 10 million Americans each year.

Furthermore, another one to two million people in the US may have a mild form of SAD.

As a result the disorder affects one in every 30 people in the US.

Seasonal affective disorder
Seasonal affective disorder

Nearly five times as many people were diagnosed with SAD than with cancer last year.

SAD sufferers are typically women – with females accounting for 60 to 90 per cent of the cases.

There isn’t any one specific test for the disorder.

Instead, doctors look at a patient’s history of seasonal depressive episodes.

Doctors also take a patient’s family history of the disorder into account, since it has been observed to run in families.

That means there is likely a genetic aspect to the disorder.

SAD is believed to be caused by a lack of exposure to light, though low vitamin D levels in the blood are also associated with the disorder.

Furthermore, 55 per cent of SAD sufferers have close relatives who have had severe depressive orders.

Another 34 per cent report having a close relative that has abused alcohol.

Seasonal affective disorder
Seasonal affective disorder

There are a number of false rumors floating around the concept of SAD, including the suggestion that SAD sufferers have other depressive conditions.

Additionally, many people falsely claim that anyone suffering from a lack of energy or other negative changes as the weather changes are suffering from SAD.

Because of the difficulty in diagnosing SAD, some experts declare that it is not a real disorder.

Instead, the infographic said: ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder is a serious depressive condition which is recognized as a legitimate mental disorder by a number of associations for various types of medical professionals.’

Some of the symptoms of SAD include tiredness, fatigue, irritability, depression, crying spells, loss of sex drive and more.

The disorder is commonly treated through phototherapy – which is the exposure to natural or artificial light each day.

It can also be treated through temporary or permanent relocation to a more hospitable climate or therapy.